Mirdon Returns! Back in July I played a couple of solo adventures to take Lucas Rolim's Pacts and Blades: Moorcockian Fantasy for a spin. I put the journal of the second one up on the blog. Lucas liked it enough that it will be included in an upcoming Pacts & Blades supplement. It also let me show off the dungeon generating tools on Donjon.
I said when I released it that I would do another one as a follow-up. And right now I finally have the time to start a solo play. And, like last time, I plan on using it to discuss ideas that are relevant to people planning, designing, and running games.
I am also showcasing Lucas Rolim's new sourcebook Salamandur Household with expansion rules for Pacts & Blades.
The Last Adventure
Mirdon portrait done in Hero Forge
Blades: Flail -1
Hit Difficulty: 2 (6)
AL: Chaos 2/3 Order 1/3
Reserve Limit: 3
Wounds🔳🔳 ◻◻◻◻ Light
🔳🔳 ◻◻ Mod.
🔳 ◻◻ Severe
Gear: Brigandine armour, Flail, Lantern, Hammer, 6 iron wedges, 3 throwing hammers, 3 flasks of oil, backpack, firestarter, coil of wire, 10' chain, 5 days rations, crowbar
Shanix is the daughter of a blacksmith. She has helped her father at the forge for years, and even run the business for him when he was ill. However, the community had no room for a girl who bucked tradition and would rather work a forge than marry.
Now she is trying to find her own way, using her skills to make gear for herself so she can plumb Dwarvish ruins for the gold to be independent.
Pacts: Salamander -1 (Order)
Hit Difficulty: 2 (6)
AL: Chaos 1/3 Order 2/3
Reserve Limit: 3
Gear: Light crossbow, 10 bolts, long cloak, backpack, 5 torches, 3 oil flasks, 10 sheets of paper, chalk and charcoal, 50' rope, grappling hook, club, waterskin, 2 weeks rations
Once acolytes of Queen Magdha, when the queen was deposed, Lorenz' family went into hiding, becoming poor farmers while secretly remembering days of glory, riches, and power.
Lorenz has always hated living in poverty while hearing tales of the Mad Queens feasts from his grandparents. Hungry for a taste of the arcane power of his ancestors, he stole his grandfather's grimoire and performed a rite to bind him to an elemental power. Horrified, his family cast him out.
Blades: Spear -1
Hit Difficulty: 2 (6)
AL: Chaos 1/3 Order 2/3
Reserve Limit: 3
Wounds🔳🔳🔳 ◻◻◻◻ Light
🔳🔳 ◻◻ Moderate
🔳🔳 ◻◻ Severe
Gear: Spear, Shield, Chain Armour, Lantern, 3 Flasks lamp oil, short bow, 20 arrows, waterskin, hatchet, 6 days rations, ball of twine, good knife, whetstone, spare clothes, deck of cards, backpack, horn
Walken was press-ganged into the royal army at 17 to deal with the Uprisings in the Southern provinces. He put down rebels, hunted bandits, and helped keep an iron fist on the reclaimed towns until the Crown was convinced their days of rebellion were over.
He returned home haunted and scarred, no longer able to relate to many of the folk of his hometown, When he heard Mirdon was hiring anyone willing to fight, he was swift to sign up.
Inferno is a city of flames, eternally smouldering stones make up rooftops and the city walls. Natural gas creates flames that flicker blue from nozzles all over the city. Fountains of burning bitumen well up into shaped bowls throughout the city. The volcanic fissure over which the city is built rattles with windmills made of thermal sails that drive the city's famous machinery (Setting: ⚂⚂).
It's people are red-scaled fire-folk, the half-salamanders who serve their elemental ancestors by working at the heart of grand forges. The only thing finer than the steel they make are the firey wyverns they have bred as mounts. (People: ⚀⚀)
Their steel is traded for exotic spices and fine food-stuffs, as the half-salamanders are great gourmands; their elemental ancestors required strange cuisines to nourish them. These alchemical reagents pain every half-salamander that eats them, even though it is required for nourishment. They treat all other meals with care to ensure eating is a joy, not torment. They hope one day that they might find a combination of spices that will satisfy them and free them from their weekly meal of purified ash. (Looking for: ⚁⚀)
No outsider is permitted in the shrine of brass at its heart, however, for it hides a laboratory where the eldritch sages that created them still toil to perfect the human form. (Secret: ⚃⚁). Only the initiated are permitted to see the flesh-forges within.
During a rain of firey stones from the Kingdom of Fire (Complications: ⚀⚀) the Mother of Fire Bees often stirs in the smouldering depths of the fissure (Creature: ⚃⚂) and may make a pact with those who consume her burning royal jelly... an otherwise much sought-after component of local cuisines (Problem ⚀⚂).
Of course, the locals cannot just get the jelly on their own. Other things stir below. They will trade wyverns and fine steel for it.
The climb will be perilous, and supplicating to the queen for both magic and honey risky.
Meta: Turning it into an Adventure
With so many details handled, just running a Donjon scenario seems insufficient. Instead, I will create an encounter list, then find a way
Now that I have a scenario and a setting, this one lends itself to all kinds of ideas and encounters just looking at what I have. Rather than a dungeon crawl, I am going to make much of this a linear descent. Here's what I have:
Dealing with the Storm
This is both a magical event and a great peril. I will say that moving through it does automatic damage unless they have magical protection. Walken's natural fire resistance might put a -2 on damage to him.
But as it is a magical planar event, let's offer a magical advancement for braving it without magical protection. It stands to reason Lorenz may have first come here for the storm, so let's say it can boost a pact with Salamander.
Just creating an anchor that won't be destroyed by firey rocks falling from the sky is a challenge, but it is clear that at least some people go down there. Let's offer the PCs two routes, through he mill complex, if the Engineer will let them through, or climbing.
Some horror stalks the caverns of the lower fissure. This will be the penultimate encounter. I will roll up a monster when they reach the cave, but In will start by rolling three bits of gossip, and then roll to see which one was false when I get to it. (1-3) It has a forked tongue that ends in two heads, one is aware (Distinctive feature ⚃⚁); (3-4) It is a fey creature with nature magic and razor claws (Pacts and Blades ⚀⚀, ⚀⚂, ⚁⚃); (5-6) It can bend time to slow your per perception (Special Skills: ⚃⚀).
The fire bees need some source of pollen. I love the idea of varieties of glowing elementally magical flowers flowing in the lava tubes. Let's assume there are many strange varieties with different effects, not even understood by the locals. Let's create a table for their effects.
|Hallucinogenic, if imbibed brings the drinker into a vision where they might make a fey pact.
|Soporific pollen has a chance of knocking PCs out.
|The nectar is sweet, but as thick and sticky as tar. Possibly a hazard.
|No special properties.
|Glows brightly for 2d3 hours after being picked.
|Swarming with ill-tempered fire bees.
|Can meet the half-salamanders'needs without digestive pain. Very spicy. Figuring that out may be tricky.
The final encounter, where the PCs have a chance to make a pact with the Mother of the Fire Bees. An Orderly being with a domain over insects and venom. Making the pact may require a trial if she is unimpressed with her guests and their offering. (I will roll some monster qualities for her later.)
This rogue Wyvern has several javelins sticking from its hide, and is blind in one eye, but is lethal all the same.
If PCs defeat and examine this creature they can learn much about spear-fighting allowing them to gain Blades (-1 Spear)
A brave, or maybe mad half-salamander is seeking fire blooms, mushrooms, and minerals to experiment with in the depths. (Roll 1d3 for Difficulty) use the BD&D NPC reaction table. On a Hostile, they are eager to try human meat. If friendly, he might share his techniques for harvesting ingredients offering a Blades advancement (-1 Axes).
The Gourmand has a clever that acts as an axe of incredible quality (-1 RV), a pouch of fine spice, rope, grappling hook, a few coins, a coffee service, coffee beans, and a first aid kit.
A follower of some of Inferno's ancient smithing traditions, he has restored an ancient subterranean forge and is smithing in a lava-heated forge. For those willing to help him in his labours (requires magical protection) can gain a Blades Advancement (-1 Hammer). He might also trade for magical weapons (-2 to RV for a share of the royal jelly.)
High quality weapons, armour, and tools are available all around this forge.
A range of hazards related to going deeper into a volcanic fissure most will offer either automatic damage, or possibly a situation where a fall or injury might result if the PCs don't act fast.
|Lava flow blocks the way.
|Sudden collapse, characters must make a roll (🔺️1 for first & last 🔺️2 for the middle) avoids fall on total success, falls for automatic damage on partial success, automatic damage and buried under rock on failure.
|Geyser blast hits PCs dealing automatic damage and possibly throwing PCs off of a nearby ridge.
|Sudden Drop-off! 2 in 6 chance of the lead member of the party not noticing until they are wobbling on the Precipice.
|Intense heat threatens automatic damage in 2 rounds. It will take d4 rounds to pass through unless they turn back.
|Suffocating fumes. Automatic damage for 1d4 rounds
|Rocks fall. Make at attack roll against each character.
A hulking, carnivorous, barely-sentient beast like the one that killed Doraleous.
Traversing the Chasm
Now that I have some possibilities worked out I will start with Dealing with the Storm, then beginning the process of Getting Down. Once the characters enter the Chasm they will navigate downward through ruins, caves, and climbs. My PCs will require 6 points of progress. Each Turn I will roll on a random Descent Table and either gain raw progress or roll an encounter. Backing away from the encounter is -1 Progress. Completing an encounter +1. If it matters, I will also create a random terrain table for where the characters are.
Once 6 progress is made, we will have our run-in with The Thing, before reaching the The Hive.
Now that I have a setup, I will dive in in the next article in this series.